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Fen
Carrion Skies
December 2014
Released: 2014, Code 666
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team

In the not too distant past, Black Metal was a genre of music I just couldn’t get into no matter how hard I tried.. That was until I was sent a copy of Fen’s Dustwalker album late 2012 that was set to be released in the following year. This band not only opened my eyes to the vaster spheres of Black Metal but also made me aware of the modern movement of bands circulating around the UK and Europe over recent years. Fast forward to the present and the British trio are back with their fourth album Carrion Skies. So does it live up to its predecessor in quite the same way? The short answer to this is no.

Instead of following a all winning formula laid down by their previous outlet the band have opted for a very different sound, offering something deeper, darker and bleaker than anything they’ve ventured into before.



The opening track, ‘Our Names Written In Embers’ is split into two parts and unveils itself in a surprisingly steady pace with heavy riffs, pounding drums and the band’s trademark shrieks. Everything is paced fairly well before dispersing into a blues driven lead that eventually erupts into some guitar savagery later on. Part 2 of the track weaves in seamlessly and it’s here that the band really get going. The intricate guitar work, speedy drums that drive the band into unfathomable darkness.



Right after this you quickly get the sense that the band’s aggression is about to subside with at some point soon, but that is where Fen prove you wrong as the barricade of drums that pervade through ‘Dying Stars’ and it’s sinister sounding riffs. The track does offer a brief moment of reflexive ambience and acoustic touches around mid way, although this is quickly snatched away as the band’s sonic assault barges onward.



Standout track, ‘Sentinels’ displays some of Fen’s greatest dynamism in their guitar abilities and for the first time so far the band indulge us with a clean vocal passage, which compliments the wavering melodies and guitar hooks.



Te final track, ‘Gathering the Stones’ takes a step back into the band’s proggy soundscapes as the clean vocals remain prominent throughout its opening minutes. After erupting into a flurry of blast beats and metallic riffs, the band display their blend of styles effortlessly here before departing into an Alcest-esque dreamlike state.



The biggest reason why this album may or may not be a welcomed addition to their discography stems from the approach to the song writing. The music is far less sprawling and more immediate than anything than ever before. This is something that may shock some fans who predicted a more ambient follow up but it also marks this as the band’s most daring and most cohesive record to date. What’s more is that this is an record that is full of subtleties and hidden moments of sheer beauty that lay buried beneath the surface and therefore demands your time and attention. Carrion Skies is not only one of the best releases to come out of 2014 but it is also testament to a band who stand at the forefront of modern Black Metal.



Review by Ben Spencer
Track Listing

1. Our Names Written in Embers - Part 1
2. Our Names Written in Embers - Part 2
3. The Dying Stars
4. Sentinels
5. Menhir - Supplicant
6. Gathering the Stones

Lineup

Grungyn - bass, cries
Derwydd - drums
The Watcher - voices, strings and woe


Next review: » Fen - Dustwalker
Previous review: » Felony - Helltown Hotel





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